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US Gives Millions Of Dollars in COVID-19 Support to Caspian Countries

By Ilham Karimli May 20, 2020

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Logo of the Department of State of the United States of America / Courtesy

The government of the United States is providing financial assistance to three Caspian nations - namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as part of its global efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Department of State announced in a statement issued on Tuesday that a total of $7.62 million has been allocated to the Caspian Sea countries in COVID-19 assistance, with Azerbaijan receiving the largest portion.

"Nearly $3.6 million in total assistance includes $3 million in health assistance which is being used to prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk-communications, and more," the statement reads referring to the funds provided for Azerbaijan.

"It also includes $565,000 in MRA [Migration and Refugee Assistance] humanitarian assistance that will help vulnerable people and host communities during the pandemic. Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested more than $894 million in total assistance to Azerbaijan, including nearly $41 million for health."

This is the second assistance of its kind to Azerbaijan after the $1.7 financial aid provided by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the same purposes on March 27.

Azerbaijan has recorded 3,631 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of May 20, according to the reports issued by the Operative Headquarters, an ad-hoc structure for dealing with pandemic cases in the country. A total of 43 fatalities and 2,253 recoveries have been accounted for, while 1,335 people are currently being treated in hospitals, of whom 46 are in critical condition.

The Department of State and USAID allocated over $3.1 million and around $920,000 in COVID-19 assistance to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, respectively. The funds are to be utilized for helping prepare laboratory systems, activating case-finding and event-based surveillance, supporting technical experts for response and preparedness, bolstering risk communication, and more, according to the Department of State's statement.

Central Asia's largest and wealthiest country Kazakhstan has received $800,000 from the US government in March for battling the spread of the pandemic. The overall number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country stands at 6,969 as of May 20, according to recent statistics. Thirty-five people have fallen to the virus, while 3,649 individuals have recovered fully.

The recent assistance to Turkmenistan follows the $920,000 worth of American aid received by the country despite the fact that it has not reported a single COVID-19 case among its population of 5.8 million. Ashgabat has not shared data on infections, recoveries, and deaths related to the coronavirus. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has reportedly ordered the state-run media to avoid using the term "coronavirus".

More than 5 million people worldwide have tested positive for the novel coronavirus - also referred to as COVID-19. Over 327,000 people have died from the virus, while around 2 million others have recovered.

The US, where 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and 94,000 fatalities have been recorded, has committed more than $900 million in State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance to help the governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations around the world fight the pandemic.